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Crime victims amendment thrown out

A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Sarah Anne Hughes
January 8, 2021
Marsy's Law, no regrets, back to school, a new strain, increased need, dashed dairy dreams, and an indulgent recipe. It's finally Friday.
A divided Commonwealth Court threw out a proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine the rights of crime victims into the state constitution.

In a 3-2 ruling, the judges found that Marsy's Law violated a requirement that amendments cover only a single subject, the Associated Press reports.

The amendment “simply embraces too many disparate matters to effectively convey its import to voters within the 75 words mandated by statute," Judge Patricia McCullough wrote.

A state group that supported the proposal plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. 

THE CONTEXT: Marsy's Law, championed by Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm and backed by both Democrats and Republicans, would alter the state constitution to guarantee rights to crime victims like being notified of hearings.

These rights are already included in state law, though proponents say amending the constitution is the only way to fix lax enforcement.

Opponents, including the ACLU, argue that such an amendment would trample on the rights of defendants by undermining due process and slowing down proceedings.

After passing both the state House and Senate twice, voters overwhelmingly approved Marsy's Law in 2019. But because of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court injunction, the state was blocked from certifying that win. 

Now, the legal fight will continue. 

"Well, the doors were open."

— Terry Brown, a 69-year-old Lebanon County supporter of President Donald Trump, said he had no regrets about storming the U.S. Capitol this week
POST IT: A snow-covered flashback in Slippery Rock Creek. Thanks, @wvubush, for another tag! Send us your hidden gems use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
BACK TO SCHOOL: In new guidance, Pennsylvania's health and education departments are encouraging schools to reopen their doors to elementary students, TribLIVE reports. Officials said new studies and a shifting understanding of the virus brought on the change.

A NEW STRAIN: Pennsylvania for the first time this week identified a new COVID-19 strain that is believed to be more contagious in the state, PennLive reports. The person, in Dauphin County, experienced mild symptoms and had “known international exposure.” 
THE DAY AFTER: One Pennsylvania man who traveled to Washington this week to support President Donald Trump died there of an apparent stroke, The Inquirer reports. At least 12 people from the state were arrested, primarily for curfew violations

THE 25TH: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is among a growing number of Democrats calling for Trump to be removed using the 25th Amendment, the Morning Call reports. Not sure how that would work? Here's a quick explainer.

INCREASED NEED: The number of people in Pennsylvania enrolled in Medicaid has increased by 10% since the beginning of the pandemic, WESA reports. That represents 300,000 people.

» FREE FOR SUBSCRIBERS: A live interview with Daniel Greenstein, chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education, at 5 p.m. Jan. 13. RSVP now and submit questions in advance to ypiper@spotlightpa.org.
LAND LOVER: Even though I live near the Susquehanna River, I would never swim in it for several reasons, including this one. Reason two? Increasingly larger catfish that look like they could swallow me whole.

PLACE IN LINE: While New Jersey has launched a portal that will let the resident know when they can seek a COVID-19 vaccine, Pennsylvania lacks any sort of statewide signup tool. Here's what else you need to know about getting your dose.

DASHED DAIRY DREAMS: The husband-and-wife duo behind the famed Farm Show butter sculptures are just as bummed as you are that their latest creation was canceled at the 11th hour. Don't forget: You have until Jan. 16 to enter your own dairy delight.

PASTA! STAT! I don't know about you, but this week has been the longest year of my life. I'm planning to (ask my partner to) make me something extremely indulgent and unhealthy this weekend. Obviously, it has to be pasta, which is why I picked this cacio e epe pie. That's right — pasta in a pie. 

TOUGH TALKS: I'm not a parent, but I still found PBS NewsHour's resources for how to teach kids about the U.S. Capitol insurrection really helpful and clairfying.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
Yesterday's answer: Perfunctory. Sorry about the extra "Z," but honestly, don't we all need a few extra ZZs after this week?  

Congrats to our daily winners: Susan D., Neal W., Mary Ellen T., George S., John C., Kim., and Joel S. 
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